Ever since China overcame its rampant opium problem of the 19th and early 20th century, the country has held an antagonistic stance towards mind-altering substances of all types. This aversion is even reflected in the language; In Chinese, “drug” translates to du ping, which literally means “poison,” a term that harbors a much more sinister connotation when compared to its linguistic counterpart in English. Anyone who grew up in a traditional Chinese household can likely attest to how they’re raised with the notion of all drugs being extremely addictive and inherently bad, with marijuana being no exception. Considering that such a negative outlook on drugs is rooted in the public consciousness, it’s no surprise that cannabis remains as stigmatized and illegal as ever in China and nearby regions. However, in the West, ganja has steadily been gaining social and legal acceptance in recent years.
Born in Korea, raised in the States, and now living in Hong Kong, photographer Alex Maeland has experienced first hand how divided Eastern and Western opinions can be when it comes to the subject of cannabis. His new photo series, “Flower”, which will be debuting at the McNamara Art Projects in Hong Kong this weekend, ultimately stems from a personal curiosity towards the cultural differences when it comes to the topic of ganja. By highlighting the beauty of cannabis plants through his photos, Maeland hopes to shed the stereotypes associated with the substance and invite people in the region to reexamine the taboo topic in a new light.
摄影师 Alex Maeland 在生于韩国、长于美国、现居香港，这样的生活经历让他亲身体会到了东西方国家的人们，对于大麻持有截然不同的看法。本周末，他将在香港的 McNamara Art Projects 展出其全新摄影系列《“Flower”》（“花”），而这个系列的创作动机正是出于他对世界各地大麻文化差异的好奇。Maeland 通过镜头，呈现出大麻植物的美感，希望借此改变人们对这种植物的一些偏见，并重新审视对这个“禁忌”话题的认识。
“Spending enough time in places like Los Angeles, the stigma around weed has been dissolved by the micro interactions that normalize it into the everyday lifestyle of the average citizen,” Maeland shares. “Meaning, it is no longer relegated to the stereotypes that have plagued it in media and entertainment for a while. […] I thought it would be interesting to do a small photo show to re-position the dialogue around weed through still-life, botanical-photo-style art in a city like Hong Kong.”
Maeland 说：“在洛杉矶这样的地方长时间生活后, 对于大麻的不好的印象也已经被冲淡，现在会觉得它只是普通人的一种生活方式。这意味着，在媒体和娱乐界的影响下，大麻一度被人们所误解，但现在人们对它的看法已经改变……所以，我想，在香港这样的城市里举办一个小型的摄影展，通过静物植物摄影艺术，让人们围绕大麻进行新的对话，应该会挺有趣的。”
Maeland views the opportunity to do a show on the topic of cannabis in Hong Kong to be much more impactful than doing something similar in the States, and rightfully so. In a region that still hasn’t accepted marijuana, in either a recreational or medical capacity, his aim is to encourage a candid discussion on the matter. “It is more relevant by doing it in a region that still doesn’t have any kind of relationship to weed in a legal sense,” he explains. “[…] The goal being to bring people together around a topic and push the conversation forward.”
Cannabis aside, Maeland has found an interest in photographing flora of all types in recent years. From creating diptychs that pair flower bouquets with portraits to capturing the life cycle of store-bought roses, Maeland uses flowers to invoke specific moods and feelings in his photography. However, beyond their superficial qualities and narrative uses, perhaps more significant is what flowers represent to him. For Maeland, flowers symbolize growth and change, qualities that not only mirror his own aspirations as a creative but also share parallels with his ambitious goals for the upcoming exhibition.
Alex Maeland’s “Flower” will be debuting at Hong Kong’s McNamara Art Projects on March 3rd, 2018 and run until March 16th, 2018.
除了大麻之外，近年来 Maeland 特别热衷于拍摄各种植物。虽然花卉的确让他的照片更具视觉吸引力，但 Maeland 对花卉的迷恋不仅来自于它们的外表。他以双联画的形式，将肖像摄影与花卉的照片并列在一起，以捕捉一束玫瑰的短暂生命周期，他的作品常常会通过花卉来唤起观众特定的情绪和感情。但是，对 Maeland 来说，花卉不仅是一种叙事手段，更是成长和变幻的象征，而这也是他渴望在即将到来的展览中所探讨的主题。
Alex Maeland 的“花”（”Flower”）摄影展将于 2018 年 3 月 3 日至 3 月 16 日期间在香港的 McNamara Art Projects 亮相。
Opening: Saturday, March 3, 2018, 6 ~ 9 pm
Exhibition Dates: March 3, 2018 ~ March 16, 2018
McNamara Art Projects
202, The Factory
1 Yip Fat Street
Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
Contributor: David Yen